Imagine that a three-year old was negotiating her way through the crowds in a busy railway station like Old Delhi Railway Station to reach a particular spot on the platform. As she walked, along the way, she found trolleys and baggage and even people sitting on the ground. Whenever she came across an obstacle, she needed to choose whether to go to the left or to the right. We make our way through life towards heaven, bewildered by the choices we need to make along the way. How can we know what God would want us to choose?
About what God would have us do in matters such as salvation and Christian doctrine, we can find answers only in the Bible—reading it for ourselves, hearing it preached from the pulpit, or hearing it from the lips of other believers. But the Bible does not give us direct and specific answers for our everyday situations. Sometimes, when faced with choices, we do not know whether to go to the left or to the right. We want to do what God wants us to do, but how do we find out what His will is?
Who can know God’s will?
The Bible tells us that God does not reveal His will and directions to all and sundry, and in fact describes the kind of person who God will guide.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov 3:5-6) So are we those who acknowledge Him in all our ways? If so, then, He will guide us.
The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. . . who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. . . The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant. (Ps 25:9-14) In these scriptures, we see that God guides those who are humble and fear Him.
Assuming that we satisfy these criteria, how can we expect God to reveal His will?
How can we know God’s will?
The Bible does not give us direct and specific answers for our everyday situations. We have to apply the principles in the Bible to find his will in specific areas. Therein lies the problem. How do we apply Biblical principles to specific areas? The solution is to meditate on the word and rely on the Holy Spirit. God has given the Holy Spirit to indwell in each of His children, and one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to help those whom He indwells to understand what God has already revealed in the Bible.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:10-14)
As we spend time with the scriptures, with the Holy Spirit guiding from within us, our mind undergoes a revamping. The more a person is acquainted with God’s word, the more he is able to decide matters from a spiritual perspective. We slowly start looking at things the way Jesus would, in other words, we begin to have the mind of Christ. Paul also calls this the ‘renewing of your mind‘ (Rom 12:2) or ‘being renewed in the spirit of your mind‘ (Eph 4:23).
We tend to take decisions on many occasions from an earthly perspective instead of from a spiritual perspective, and this leads us in the wrong direction. The Holy Spirit helps us to view things from a spiritual perspective.
As mentioned earlier, it is the Bible that equips us to discern His will, although it may not give us direct answers for specific situations.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim 3:16-17)
Even a mature saint of God cannot expect to hear a distint voice from the Spirit telling him what to do about specific matters in his life. Like everyone else, he will need to list out all the options and the consequences of each option, and then take an informed decision. As a person who is accustomed to walking with God, he thinks from a spiritual perspective and with a calmness that comes from knowing that God will direct him.
God also gives us wisdom to make wise decisions. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…” (Jas 1:5)
While taking a decision we can ask our pastor to help us or consult other fellow believers too.
Even after considering all the options and consulting fellow believers a person can still make a wrong decision. But God is Sovereign and He will convert the wrong decision for good in our lives. In fact, God uses the natural course of things to get His will going in our lives.
This brings us to a well-known and well-loved verse. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28 )
Where does all this leave us?
As we grow in His ways, and as our minds get renewed more and more, and as we keep from being conformed to the way the world thinks, we will, even without being concious of it, be open to the Lord’s guidance. He also works things out according to His will. If these matters have serious spiritual consequences, we need to pray very specially for His wisdom. We would also need to consult with other believers and ask them to pray for us.
God wants us to think deeply about spiritual things and spiritual consequences. He wants us to pray for the work of His kingdom. In these matters, we really need to spend time with Him and find His will. For instance if we are teaching someone about the Lord, we must wait on Him to show us how to proceed and what we should say. But even in these spiritual matters, we must not expect to hear an audible voice from Him. But we will be guided in our hearts, even without being concious of it, and even as we proceed to do the ministry.
For other matters in our everyday lives, for those of us who have sought His kingdom first, we will be guided in everything naturally. As long as we concentrate on His word and His church, the other things will be shown us automatically. Of course, as most of us have seen in our lives, His ways are not always comfortable and easy, but with Him in the boat, we ought not to be afraid. Although we may groan and long to have things easier, while we ask for deliverance, we must have the assurance that it is well with our souls, and that His grace is indeed sufficient.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
Horatio G. Spafford
So we strive to look beyond the problem of the moment, to the big picture, where because of His sacrifice, we have hope. Irrespective of any situation, it is indeed well with our souls.
To get back to the thread of the discussion, we were saying that when we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, the little things (as compared with eternal matters) will be taken care of, and we will be led, no matter what we decide on these matters. We must take informed decisions to the best of our ability and then leave the matters in His hands to work out as He chooses. Even if we make mistakes, He will set them right.
Let us get back to Old Delhi Railway station where we left the three-year old to negotiate her way through the crowded platform, taking a left turn here and a right turn there to avoid baggage and people in her path. You may wonder why this little girl was given this formidable task. I did not mention that her parents were following her two feet behind. Whether she avoided an obstacle by steping to the left or to the right did not matter much to her parents. This was because, for one, she was moving generally towards the spot they wanted to reach, and two, they were completely in control of the situation. In fact, if she froze whenever she encountered an obstacle and thought too much about it, then it would become counter productive. Her purpose was to get to the destination quickly. Other things were trivial in comparison
So it is with us and many of the so-called important decisions we make in our lives. Whether we take History or Commerce in university, whether we settle for an individual house or buy an appartment, whether we plan to have two children or three, in all these matters, if after weighing the pros and cons from a spiritual perspective as best as we can, we decide something, God will allow us to take that path only if it is His will. We must not fear a wrong decision for we have our heavenly Father close at hand and watching us.
I have not ever faced a situation where I had two choices that were equally good from all angles, where I simply could not decide the path to take. But if I ever do face such a situation, I would take any one of the choices randomly or even draw lots, albeit with prayer, and know that I would be doing God’s will anyway.
On the other hand, our mind must be on heaven and God’s purposes. We must concentrate on His kingdom and His righteousness. On such things let us break our heads.
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